These teachers in a low-income district found a genius way to meet with parents.

Eager to help parents understand what their kids were learning in school, teachers Brittany Harris and Colleen Ryan decided to bring school to them — with the help of a big red school bus.

"A lot of our parents don't have cars, or the shifts they work don't work with the schedule of time teachers are available at school, so this service allows convenience for them," Ryan explains.

Harris bought the old bus — which she and Ryan named The Passage — from a relative last fall after struggling to connect with families in her low-income Chattanooga, Tennessee, district.


The educators stocked it with tables, chairs, books, games, and iPads, and they took it on the road.

Ryan (left) and Harris on the bus. Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

Meetings on the bus last 30 minutes and focus on either math or reading.

One of the goals is to update parents, many of whom are unfamiliar with Common Core methods, on the new problem-solving techniques their children are using to do their homework.

Breakfast is often included — as are games, including math bingo, Trouble, and Legos.

Harris works with a student and parent on the bus. Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

"To hear the student talk about [how] the bus being at their house was the highlight of their weekend because they got to show their teacher their house is enlightening," Ryan says.

Harris initially paid for the mini-school-on-wheels out of her own pocket, an experience shared by many teachers who are increasingly expected to furnish their own school supplies.  

In 2015, K-12 educators spent an average of nearly $500 on furniture, cleaning supplies, poster board, and other essential items for their classrooms — not including side projects like The Passage.

Harris and Ryan shop for supplies at a local IKEA. Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

The project is now funded by several grants.

"We knew we wanted to do this no matter what," Ryan says.

Ryan credits The Passage for helping her and Harris integrate more deeply into the community where they work.

The educators have taken the bus to block parties and hosted group events, though being welcomed into their students' homes is often the highlight of a day on the road.

"It brings a whole new perspective to a teacher," she says.

Photo by The Passage/Facebook.

In addition to the grants that help furnish materials for the rolling classroom, the bus receives donated books and supplies.

The mobile learning lab is already showing results.

One boy who had trouble understanding some assignments did a 180 after Ryan and Harris came knocking on his door.

"[He] was great in math but struggled in reading," Ryan says. "With the bus, we taught him strategies of how to understand word problems even if he couldn't read it fully, which allowed him to pass his benchmark math test."

For some pupils, she explains, learning is about more than academics.

It's showing up that matters.

"A simple act of just going to a house can lift the lowest of spirits of a student."

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Anderson Cooper has interviewed hundreds of people, from top celebrities to heads of state to people on the street. He is fairly unflappable when it comes to chatting with a guest, which is what makes his reaction while interviewing inaugural poet Amanda Gorman all the more delightful.

Gorman stole the show at President Biden's Inauguration with a powerful performance of her original poem, "The Hill We Climb." People were blown away by both her words and her poise in delivering them, especially considering the fact that she's only 22 years old. But it's one thing to be able to write and recite well, and another to be able to impress in an off-the-cuff conversation—and Gorman proved in her interview on Anderson Cooper 360 that she can do both at a level most of us can only dream of.

In the interview, Gorman explained how she dove into research to prepare her poem to fit the occasion, and then how that work was disrupted by the attack on the Capitol.

"I'm not going to say that that completely derailed the poem, because I was not surprised at what had happened," she said. "I had seen the signs and the symptoms for a while, and I was not trying to turn a blind eye to that. But what it did is it energized me even more, to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope and unity and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear."

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.